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Distrust High as Guinea Prepares for Presidential Poll


People pass in front of an electoral campaign poster for incumbent President Alpha Conde in Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 10, 2015.

People pass in front of an electoral campaign poster for incumbent President Alpha Conde in Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 10, 2015.

Guinea is preparing for its second presidential election since returning to democracy in 2010. But a survey shows many are distrustful of the election authorities.

Incumbent leader Alpha Conde is seeking a second term in Sunday's election. His main challenger is former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, who ran against Conde in the 2010 vote and lost.

During his 2010 campaign, Diallo accused Guinea’s election authority, the National Independent Electoral Commission, of bias. A new survey from research firm Afrobarometer shows that suspicion has lived on.

Twenty-eight percent of Guineans surveyed said they did not trust the CENI, as the commission is known. About 34 percent said they had “a lot” of trust, with the rest of respondents falling somewhere in between.

Senior analyst Vincent Foucher of the International Crisis Group says the lack of trust in the CENI could lead to an election dispute.

“The side that loses, basically, will not trust the results,” he said.

Conde took office in 2010, promising change in a country that has gone through decades of often-brutal dictatorship and where the World Bank says more than half of the population lives in poverty.

More than 50 people were killed in the run-up to legislative elections held in 2013. The past weeks have seen a repeat of the violence. Last weekend, more than 80 people were injured in fighting between supporters of the rival candidates in the southeastern city of Nzérékoré

In the capital, Conakry, political analyst and economics professor Alpha Koita says people are ready to vote.

Some people have already received their voter cards, Koita says, including himself. The country is ready for elections, he says.

But not everyone believes that. During the past week the opposition has repeatedly called for the CENI to postpone the vote, saying there were irregularities in preparations for the polls.

Karim Kamara contributed reporting from Conakry, Guinea.

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